Introducing South Africa
South Africa is such a diverse country to visit. This stand-out country on the southern tip of the continent of Africa is certainly one of life’s must-see destinations. Once you have been, there is every chance you will go back, time and time again. There are opportunities for wildlife spotting on safari, exploration of rich vineyards, hip, and vibrant cities, superb sporting facilities including golf, and a coastline of glorious beaches.
Most visitors combine a few locations by plane or train such as a city, a township, and a safari. A very popular travel choice is a road trip along the iconic Garden route from Cape Town to Port Elizabeth. Some also look to visit neighboring countries such as Namibia, Botswana, and Eswatini.
South Africa has the opposite seasons to the UK. Summer is from November to March and winter is from April to October. The north of the country which includes Kruger, Madikwe, and Sun City is generally warm all year. Cooler winter temperatures affect the Western and Eastern Cape Provinces such as Cape Town and the Garden Route.
Last year I was sent a lovely blog on the reasons to visit South Africa. You will not be able to do it all on one trip but one thing is for sure – you will be back!
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Planes, trains, and automobiles are considered the best means of getting around in South Africa.
Traveling on buses is safe, good value, and comfortable, and the vehicles are usually equipped with air conditioning and toilets.
Train travel is just about the slowest way of getting around South Africa. Trains offer overnight services saving you the cost of accommodation with varying degrees of space and comfort. There are several luxury train companies including The Blue train from Cape Town to Pretoria or Rovos Rail from Pretoria to Cape Town, Durban, or Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe. IF you are a fan of travelling by train check out my page dedicated to Rail Journeys.
The regional flight network in South Africa is good especially if your time is short. The main airlines are South African Airways and its regional subsidiaries and British Airways Comair.
Driving in South Africa is a joy with a well-maintained network of highways and roads. To get to some key attractions and the safaris, you need a car whether it’s your rented vehicle which is reasonably priced, or with a private driver. You cannot reach the safari parks by public transport.
Places To Stay in South Africa
South Africa is rightly so one of the most exciting destinations in the world however deciding where to stay is complex. For a start, you have a multitude of accommodation options. From indulgent 5-star luxury to rustic budget conscious.
The country provides a strong wildlife and eco-tourism offering so there will be a predominance of game and safari reserves, farms, and lodges. On the coast, you have beach resort accommodation. Self-catering, hotels, guest houses, backpacker hostels, and camping are widespread.
Some of the best-known places holidaymakers can choose from in South Africa are in or near national parks and game reserves. You can also enjoy the township experiences or traditional cultural villages.
Once you know what type of trip you are taking check out this Booking.com search for a huge choice and all at great prices.
Capital Cities Of South Africa
South Africa has three capitals, each with a separate segment of the nation’s government.
Pretoria is the administrative capital and hosts many departments of government and foreign embassies. It is home to the executive branch of the South African government, including the President of the Cabinet.
Cape Town is the legislative capital. It is home to the country’s legislative parliament, including the National Assembly and National Council of Provinces.
Bloemfontein is the judicial capital. It is home to the Supreme Court of Appeal, the second-highest court in South Africa. The Constitutional Court (the highest court) is located in Johannesburg.
In addition to these three capitals, the country is divided into nine provinces, each with its capital city.
Eastern Cape: capital Bhisho
Free State: Bloemfontein
Limpopo – Polokwane
Northern Cape: Kimberley
North West: Mahikeng
Western Cape: Cape Town
Top Things To See & Do
One of South Africa’s star attractions. With versatile hip neighborhoods, shops, restaurants, and museums to unspoiled nature that includes the famous tabletop mountains, as well as beautiful beaches, come complete with their very own penguin colonies.
The highest mountain range in South Africa, meaning the Dragon Mountains in Afrikaan is in Drakensburg. A popular destination for those seeking both history and activities. The rock paintings provide a fascinating insight into the country’s past and then there is an opportunity for hiking, abseiling, or white water rafting on the Orange or Tugela River.
Blyde River Canyon in Mpumalanga
An enormous green canyon with waterfalls, that can be enjoyed as you hike, raft the rivers, cycle, take boat trips, fish, or even a hot air balloon with the chance of seeing a wide variety of animal species including hippos, antelopes, and numerous primates.
Cable Ride to Table Mountain, Cape Town
The most popular attraction in the city which you can hike to or for a more leisurely experience why not take the cable car to the highest point at 1067 meters? From the top, there are iconic views of the stunning city below.
Located in Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden, this tree canopy walkway attracts visitors to admire the wonderful panorama of both mountains and forests.
One of the most famous beaches in South Africa and a mecca for the surfing community who come to challenge their skills on the high waves.
A diverse and vibrant town that is famous for its architecture, the National Zoological Gardens and Freedom Park which was inspired by Nelson Mandela and is a symbol of human rights.
Horse Riding in Noordhoek
The white sandy beaches of Noordhoek stretch along the coastline where you can ride the native horses through wetlands and on the beach for a truly magical experience. En route, there are plenty of wildlife watching opportunities both on land and at sea.
Hiking in Sabie Valley
Surrounded by forest, the town of Sabie is situated on the Sabie River banks. From the Long Tom Pass where you will discover the silver British cannon. There are also wonderful views across to the Kruger National Park, Pilgrim’s Rest, Blyde River Canyon, the Sabie waterfalls, God’s Window, and Bourke’s Luck Potholes.
South Africa produces great wines with some amazing tours available from Cape Town. Visitors can explore the vineyards, meet with the winemakers and enjoy a great meal washed down with some of the finest wines in the world.
Pre-Bookable Excursions in South Africa
The South Africa Tourist Office provides a wide choice of useful information including places to go, things to do, and what you can expect from the weather. Below are links to their website/travel blog and social media channels which are all worth following before any trip.